A third-round pick in 2012, aforementioned Allen caught 45 balls as a rookie before a hip injury cost him all but one game in 2013. There’s massive upside here, but the presence of Fleener will cost him targets in the short-term…Jared Cook has never quite exploded into the superstar fantasy tight end we all expected, but he was No. 11 in points at the position last year – his first with St. Louis. Cook has all the tools, is in his prime at 27, and the Rams’ offensive is improving around him.
A knee injury ended Travis Kelce’s rookie season before it started, but the 2013 third-round pick is Kansas City’s long-term answer at the tight end position. It’s possible the 24 year old will be the team’s starter by Week 1, but it’s more likely he’ll spend some time backing up Anthony Fasano…Jermichael Finley is a free agent and still recovering from last season’s neck injury. Expected to be cleared in plenty of time for Week 1, Finley has the skills to push for TE1 consideration if he lands a prominent offensive role. Finley turns 27 this spring.
Charles Clay took major advantage of Dustin Keller’s season-ending injury last season. Expected to carve out an NFL role as a situational H-Back, Clay busted onto the fantasy scene with 69 receptions, 759 yards and six touchdowns. He was No. 7 in fantasy points at tight end. Only 25, he’ll eventually face competition from Dion Sims, but Clay has earned himself a full-time role in Miami.
Joseph Fauria is currently a top the Lions’ depth chart and has a shot at the Lions’ long-term starting gig if he shows well this season. A monster near the goal line at 6’7”/255, he scored on seven of his 18 receptions last season…The Cardinals’ addition of John Carlson means Rob Housler is off scholarship in Arizona. He’s destined for a situational, receiving role, but is only 26…Gresham’s days in Cincinnati are numbered with Eifert in the picture. He’s only 26 but hasn’t lived up to his first-round draft selection and figures to be headed elsewhere in 2015.
Gavin Escobar, Vance McDonald, Luke Willson, Ryan Griffin, Levine Toilolo, and Sims were all selected in the 2013 draft. Escobar is being groomed as a potential in-house replacement for Witten. McDonald is backing up Davis in San Francisco. Willson is a potential long-term replacement for Zach Miller in Seattle. Griffin and Toilolo are both currently atop their respective team’s depth chart and are already on the 2014 TE2 radar. Sims is stuck behind Clay in Miami. All six tight ends have size and/or pass-catching ability on their side. Escobar and McDonald have the biggest upside, but it may take time for them to earn a full-time role.
Injuries above him on the depth chart allowed Tim Wright to put up a Top 20 fantasy campaign as an undrafted rookie. A skilled pass catcher, Wright is only 24, but will return to a situational role for the time being…Garrett Graham is a free agent, but has a history of borderline TE1 production when in an every-down role. His ranking will move once we find out where he signs, but note that it won’t be much considering that he’ll be 28 come Week 1…Heath Miller just extended his deal with the Steelers through 2016. Now fully-recovered from a torn ACL late in the 2012 season, Miller will look to return to TE1 territory. He’ll turn 32 during the 2014 season, however, which significantly hampers his upside.
The Titans appear dedicated to keeping Delanie Walker heavily-involved in its offensive gameplan. Of course, Tennessee is a bit weak at quarterback and is expected to focus on the run. Walker is 29, so there’s not a ton to get excited about here…Antonio Gates is one of the game’s top tight ends of the last decade, but his days as a TE1 are over. He turns 34 this summer and Green is about to take his job. It’s unlikely that we’ll see a repeat of his 77-catch 2013 campaign…Owen Daniels was cut by Houston and, at age 31 and with serious durability concerns, is unlikely to land a full-time gig elsewhere.
Lance Kendricks plays quite a bit, but is stuck behind Cook in St. Louis for the near future…Adrien Robinson enters his third year eyeing the Giants’ starting gig…Brandon Bostick is atop the depth chart in Green Bay, but competition is likely coming…Mychal Rivera is expected to start for Oakland, but offers limited upside…Taylor Thompson is a massive target, but remains stuck behind Walker in Tennessee.
Brandon Pettigrew, Scott Chandler, and Andrew Quarless are free agents. All three have a good shot to return to starting gigs on their incumbent squads. Pettigrew and Chandler are closing in on 30 and unlikely to push for TE1 value again. Quarless has never turned regular snaps into fantasy relevance.
Brandon Myers signed with the Bucs and is the favorite to start. An underwhelming blocker, he’ll immediately be pushed by Wright, Luke Stocker, and Tom Crabtree…Brent Celek, Marcedes Lewis, and Zach Miller remain atop their respective team’s depth chart, but all three are approaching age 30. Their days as fantasy assets are all but over. Lewis has the best shot at TE2 numbers in 2014…Converted wide receiver David Ausberry missed the 2013 season due to injury, but will be in the mix to start for Oakland if they don’t make a major upgrade.